Leadership is a non-negotiable. There is no way to build or change an organization without courageous leadership.
We are all capable of courageous leadership, and there is no more important time than right now to be a courageous leader.
On the individual level, courageous leaders are everywhere. It’s the person who challenges a long-held product or process. It’s the person who steps up to form a first-of-its-kind ERG.
Your VP of Sales is an executive leader with power and (hopefully) influence, but that power and influence derive from their title. What about the individual contributor on the sales team who’s been with the company for 20 years? That individual can be just as influential, if not more so than the executive with the VP title.
To build modern organizations, for the future, we need courageous leaders who don’t need a team or a title to speak up.
The cumulative effect of direct and indirect leadership can lead an organization to sustained growth, or it can lead to decline.
What Do We Need From Direct Leaders?
Thanks to a growing body of research, we know those good leaders engage in these essential behaviors:
Direct leaders have an enormous responsibility; every minute of interaction with the team is an opportunity to be a force for positive or create a toxic environment. Accountability in leadership is merely holding your self accountable to be a good leader. Accountable leaders are inclusive, humble; they articulate and share their vision and strive to be consistently authentic, optimistic, and high-energy.
Communication & Transparency
How we communicate and what we communicate has a significant impact on our teams.
Our co-workers and teammates are adults, and its time, we start communicating with them like adults (we need to start treating them like adults as well but more on that in a later essay). That means being as transparent and open as we can be. It means providing context because the more people know, the better the results.
We see the opposite of this when organizations make significant changes that impact hundreds of people and give little to no context to the people affected. The resulting gossip is an unnecessary distraction, and the lack of context means people are operating in a vacuum.
The best leaders help their people by removing obstacles and supporting their growth and development. Supporting a team takes many forms:
- Getting the tools and equipment, they need to get their job done– sometimes, that’s as easy as approval, and other times, we need to push back on the bureaucracy.
- Lift up your team — no organization is perfect, and you will always have bad days. A good leader provides perspective and recognizes the team’s hard work.
- Get out of their way — If you feel like you’re micro-managing, you either have the wrong people or the wrong mindset. Remove the obstacles, and let your team go!
The above is just the beginning of my exploration of leadership and its importance in building modern organizations. In future posts, I will be exploring the concepts of direct and indirect leadership and continue to provide you with research resources as I find them.
What do you think? Did I miss any essential qualities of leadership? What would you add? Remove?